Pergola plan: How to Build a DIY Retractable Pergola Canopy

How to Build a DIY Retractable Pergola Canopy


Lee Wallender

Lee Wallender

Lee has over two decades of hands-on experience remodeling, fixing, and improving homes, and has been providing home improvement advice for over 13 years.

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Updated on 05/04/22

Reviewed by

Johnathan Brewer

Reviewed by
Johnathan Brewer

Johnathan C. Brewer II is a licensed general contractor specializing in kitchen, bath remodels, and general construction with two decades of professional experience.

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Project Overview

A pergola is a fantastic addition to a yard, deck, or patio, lending an architectural flair to your landscape. But one thing that a pergola does not provide is adequate shade. Traditionally, the solution to the lack-of-shade problem has been to intertwine trailing plants or vines, such as grapevines, jasmine, or wisteria. But plants take time to train upward, and many homeowners don’t like the shedding leaves and debris. Plus, some trailing plants may not cover the middle sections of the pergola.

The low-cost solution for many homeowners is a retractable pergola canopy. Building a do-it-yourself retractable pergola canopy is a moderately easy way to provide an instant cover for your structure, at a fraction of the cost of commercial canopies.

What Is a Retractable Canopy?

With this retractable canopy design, the fabric is attached to horizontal 2×2 support boards, which slide along tensioned stainless steel cables, called wire ropes, which are hung from the pergola’s horizontal support beams. When retracted, this DIY pergola canopy tucks neatly away at one end of the structure. When extended, the canopy shades the underlying area in graceful drapes.

What to Consider Before Building a Retractable Canopy

Retractable pergola canopies have distinct benefits—but it’s important to know about their limitations before embarking on the project. Among the advantages of building your own DIY retractable canopy:

  • Cost is quite low compared to commercial canopies, which usually are installed by a custom installation team.
  • It is relatively simple to build this version, using basic materials available at home centers.
  • This canopy is easy to open and close, without the tricky mechanical gears and pulleys that commercial canopies feature.

But also keep in mind some drawbacks:

  • This design is ineffective against rain.
  • It can be susceptible to damage in high winds.
  • Semi-translucent fabric doesn’t create complete shade.


If you’re not mechanically inclined, hiring someone to assemble a product such as a retractable pergola canopy might save you frustration and time.

Working With Fabric

Depending on the size of your canopy, it’s possible that you’ll need to stitch together two or more pieces of fabric to adequately cover your pergola. If so, this project will require some ability to use a sewing machine, as well as the basic DIY construction skills needed to install the support bars and wire ropes.

The best canopy fabric for your pergola will vary depending on a number of factors, including the weather in your area and your shade preference. Your options include:

  • Sailcloth: Water-resistant, durable, and attractive, 100-percent acrylic or nylon ripstop sailcloth is a favorite choice for do-it-yourselfers building pergola canopies. Sailcloth is colorfast and dries quickly.
  • Mesh privacy screen: UV-rated polypropylene mesh is often used as a privacy screen for fencing. Highly durable and available in only a few basic colors, one benefit of a mesh privacy screen is that does not hold water. But mesh screen offers only partial shading.
  • Muslin or linen: Muslin and linen are 100-percent organic fabrics that loosely drape for a casual, gorgeous coastal look. Use these fabrics only in dry conditions, as both readily soak up moisture and dry slowly. Muslin and linen are not durable in exterior conditions and usually are only good for one season.

Working with Wire Rope Hardware

Suspending the wire ropes that will serve as cables for the canopy is done with a special type of hardware, known as a thimble-and-wire rope fitting. The process involves first threading the horseshoe-shaped metal thimble (which bears no resemblance to a sewing thimble) onto a screw eye anchored to the pergola’s beam. Then, the wire rope is fed through the screw eye so it fits into the groove of the thimble. Last, the free end of the wire rope is doubled back onto itself and secured with a specially designed clamp. This type of hardware is necessary since the wire ropes will be stretched between beams under tension.

This hardware is stocked along with other metal cable fittings in your hardware store or home center and is also available from online retailers.

When to Build a DIY Retractable Canopy

A retractable canopy is appropriate in situations where you want to enjoy sunny conditions some of the time but also want the ability to block the sun at other times. For example, you may want to grow potted plants but also want the ability to provide temporary shade when it’s time for entertaining. A retractable awning is ideal for such multi-purpose spaces.

An ideal time for the construction of this retractable canopy is on a dry, coolish day when winds are minimal. A day that is cloudy (though not rainy) might be preferable, as you’ll be looking up upward into the sun much of the time as you build and hang the canopy. A bright sunny day in midsummer can be both blinding and unpleasantly hot for outdoor construction work, while a mild, overcast spring day can be ideal.

Equipment / Tools

  • Drill and driver bits
  • Wrench set
  • Staple gun
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Speed square or another squaring tool
  • Cordless drill
  • 6-foot step ladder
  • Power miter saw or circular saw
  • Sewing machine (if needed)
  • Wire cutters
  • Paintbrush (if needed)


  • Canopy fabric
  • 2×2 cedar boards as long or longer than pergola width (quantity varies)
  • 6 #4, 2 1/4-inch zinc-plated steel eye screws
  • #10 eye screws (quantity varies
  • 3 Hook-and-end style stainless steel turnbuckles, 1/4-inch x 5 1/4-inch
  • 2 5 1/2-inch dock cleats with mounting hardware
  • 1/8-inch-diameter stainless steel uncoated wire rope
  • 6 Thimbles and cable clamps for 1/8-inch wire rope
  • 2 2 1/2-inch corrosion-resistant screws
  • 1/8-inch nylon rope (quantity varies)
  • Tailor’s chalk (optional)
  • Wood stain (if desired)
  1. Size the Canopy Fabric

    When fully extended, the canopy must be the size of the pergola’s area, plus at least 20 percent longer to accommodate draping. Heavier cloth such as sailcloth will sag more; muslin and linen will sag less. Determine the look you wish to achieve when the canopy is extended. Tighter cloth has a trim, finished look. Cloth with deeper sags gives your pergola an airy, fanciful look. Find the area of your pergola by multiplying its length by its width.


    Sailcloth can normally be ordered from a sailmaker’s supply outlet in widths up to 60 inches. For mesh privacy screening, shop at a big box home center or landscape supply specialty store; widths of 4, 5, and 6 feet are standard. For muslin or linen, a fabric store is your best bet.

  2. Stitch the Canopy Fabric (Optional)

    Since the canopy fabric rarely will come in widths that match your pergola’s width, you’ll need to decide whether you want to stitch together separate canopy strips or leave them separate.

    For example, a 12-foot wide pergola would require two strips of fabric, each 6 feet wide. You can use a sewing machine to sew the two runs of canopy fabric together. Sailcloth is too thick to sew comfortably by hand, but muslin and linen can be manually sewn. Another option is to run two or more separate canopy strips attached to the support bars, without stitched seams.

  3. Cut the Canopy Support Bars

    The canopy fabric will be stabled to 2×2 cedar supports bars, which will then be suspended from support wires using eye screws that allow the canopy to slide back and forth.

    With a power miter saw or circular saw, cut 2×2 boards to the width of the canopy. Generally, plan on one board for about every 18 inches of the canopy’s length, though the exact spacing is up to you. Increasing the number of boards creates a scalloped, ribbed look. Fewer boards produce larger, lower drapes.

  4. Stain the Support Bars (Optional)

    Cedar wood naturally weathers to a silvery-gray color and its oils keep it protected for many years. But if you would like added protection or a different look, you may choose to treat the cedar boards with semi-transparent stain or solid color stain.

    Let the stain dry fully before proceeding to the next step.

  5. Attach the Support Bars to the Canopy

    To attach the canopy fabric to the support bars:

    • Stretch the canopy out on a clean surface.
    • Using a tape measure and tailor’s chalk or a carpenter’s pencil, lightly mark intended support bar locations along the edges of the canopy fabric. For the canopy to slide properly, the support bars must be parallel to each other and all bars should be perpendicular to the sides of the canopy. Support bars should be located at each end of the canopy, as well.
    • At each pair of marks, slide a support bar under the canopy and staple the canopy to the bar. Repeat for every set of marks.


    Make sure to use galvanized wire staples to secure the canopy fabric to the supports, as they will resist corrosion better than standard steel staples.

  6. Install the Eye Screws on the Pergola

    Next, you’ll install the six eye screws on the support beams, three on one beam and three on the opposite beam. The support beams are the pergola’s chief horizontal load-carrying beams, often 2×6 or 2×8 lumber, upon which the upper structure rests. They are not the top-most lattice (designed to host trailing plants), nor are they the cross members (joists) directly below the lattice. The support beams are the structural members that rest on (or are bolted to) the vertical posts.

    Using a ladder, drill three equidistant pilot holes on one beam, slightly smaller in diameter than the eye screws. Position the holes as high as possible, while maintaining a 1-inch space above the holes so that the canopy will slide freely and clear any structural components directly above. Screw the three eye screws fully into place. Repeat for the opposite side.

  7. Cut the Wire Rope

    Cut the wire rope into three lengths. Each length of wire rope should be equal to the distance between the two pairs of eye screws, plus another 10 percent, minimum, to allow for looping around the eye screws and securing with clamps.

  8. Install the Wire Rope on the Eye Screws

    Looping the ends of the wire ropes around the screw eyes is a somewhat tricky operation:

    • First, fit a cable thimble through one of the eye screws, then slide the end of one of each wire rope through the eye screw and over the cable thimble so it fits into the thimble’s groove.
    • At the other end of the wire rope, fit a cable clamp over the rope and slide it up to the thimble area so both strands of the wire rope are threaded through the clamp’s opening.
    • With a wrench, tighten down the clamp so that the wire rope forms a tight loop over the thimble.
    • Repeat for the other two wire ropes and eye screws.

    The three wire ropes should now be anchored to the support beam at one end of the pergola, with the opposite ends of the wire ropes still hanging free.

  9. Install the Eye Screws on the Support Bars

    Stretch out the canopy and lay it on a clean surface. The canopy can be oriented so that the wooden support bars are either above or below the canopy fabric. Installing the bars above the fabric gives the cover a clean look that emphasizes the draping. Installing the bars below the fabric means that the bars will be visible from below. This is a stronger attachment since the support bars, not just staples, are holding up the fabric.

    Attach three of the #10 eye screws on top of every support bar. Space the eye screws so that they match the spacing of the three eye screws you previously installed on the pergola beams. Be sure to drill pilot holes to avoid cracking the wood.

  10. Trim the Wire Ropes and Attach Turnbuckles

    Extend each of the turnbuckles out as far as they will go by turning the two ends counter-clockwise to each other. Attach the three turnbuckles with the hook end to the three remaining eye screws on the pergola. Extend the free end of each wire rope to the eye end of the turnbuckles to get a general sense of where to cut the ends. Add 4 inches to your measurement and cut there, using wire cutters.

  11. Slide the Canopy onto the Wire Ropes

    With a helper, thread each of the three wire ropes through the corresponding eye screws attached to the support bars.

  12. Attach Thimbles and Clamps to the Wire Ropes

    Attach the remaining thimbles and clamps to the free ends of the wire ropes, in order to connect them to the eye end of the turnbuckles. Secure the hook ends of the turnbuckles to the pergola eye bolts. Turn the turnbuckles clockwise to tighten the wire ropes. Make them as taut as possible.


    Lifting the canopy up as you secure the turnbuckles onto the eye bolts can be an awkward process. Having a helper or two assisting will make this work considerably easier.

  13. Secure One End of the Canopy

    Since one end of the canopy will always remain in place, you will need to secure the end support bar so that it does not move. Drive 2 1/2-inch screws horizontally through the ends of the support bar to attach it to the pergola’s vertical posts.

  14. Attach the Deck Cleats to the Support Posts

    At the far end of the pergola, attach a deck cleat to the inside face of each of the pergola’s two posts, about 4 feet above the bottom of the post.

  15. Attach the Drawstring to the Canopy End

    Cut two pieces of nylon rope, each the length of your pergola plus another 4 feet. Tie each to the end support bar, one at each end. Drape each drawstring over a horizontal support beam at the end of the pergola.

    Pulling the drawstrings down will move the pergola canopy horizontally along the wire ropes to extend it. Loop the drawstrings around the cleats to hold them in place. Retracting the canopy will involve removing the drawstrings from around the cleats, and sliding the canopy back to the fixed end by hand.

Retractable Canopy Tips

To keep it looking nice, you should expect to replace your canopy fabric every few years, as exposure to wind, rain, and sun is sure to age the fabric. In colder climates where a deck or patio is not used during the winter months, you may want to take down the canopy and store it for the winter—or drape it with a protective plastic tarp over the winter.

25 Stylish Pergola Ideas to Shelter Your Backyard

51 DIY Pergola Plans & Ideas You Can Build in Your Garden (Free)

If you have a garden in your backyard, you know you’ve imagined sitting around in your garden under the shade while chatting with your family and BBQ-ing. It’s every gardener’s dream.

To make this dream into reality, you need a pergola.

Pergolas are a great solution for areas in your garden that need shade. They are also great for dividing up an outdoor space. So if you are in need of some shade and also a few ideas on how to build a pergola, I’ve got them for you right here. No need to look any further.

Here are 51 pergola plans and ideas for your future pergola.

1. The Shady Pergola

I think we have established by now that not many of these pergola plans are going to be a difficult build. This is another simple one. It is meant to follow the classic design of a regular, old pergola.

This pergola was built with the intention of creating shade. The picture depicts it with beautiful flowers and vines covering it to create that perfect sitting area to relax and enjoy your property after a long day of hard work.

Build This Pergola ›

2. The Plant Hanger Pergola

This pergola is not for beginners. However, if you are an experienced builder then you will be right at home with this one.

It is a gorgeous pergola that is meant to be attached to your deck. With the way it is designed you can actually hang plants from it. It is a beautiful design that would be a great addition to any piece of property.

Build This Pergola ›

3. The Garden Arbor

This is another plan that is probably not the best for beginners. However, if you have a garden area that you would like to enjoy but can’t because of the sun then this might be the option you’ve been looking for.

The pergola is meant to go over a sitting area that is surrounded by a garden, but you could also use it to go over a rose garden. So if you are an experienced builder this pergola should be right up your alley.

Build This Pergola ›

4. Outdoor Kitchen Island With Pergola

This is a snazzy little set-up. If you are quite the entertainer and have an outdoor kitchen then this would work great for you.

The plans show you how to construct a kitchen island and then a pergola attachment that will help shield you from the sun while you are cooking. This would be an awesome addition to any outdoor back patio or deck.

Build This Pergola ›

5. The Louvered Pergola

If you are like me and could live outside this would be a great option.

Basically, you create a rounded seating area to your deck and then place a pergola over it. You could do as the picture shows and add an eating area too.

Build This Pergola ›

6. The Pergola Swing

This pergola is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It is built as a stand-alone structure. There is shelving on the inside of it.

The shelving can be used a planting station or a place to hold other items. You then attach a swing to the top and have a nice shaded area to sit and enjoy the day.

Build This Pergola ›

7. The Deck + Pergola

These are actually deck plans. The cool addition to these deck plans is the fact that it comes with a pergola.

This pergola will be attached to your home. If you don’t want a covered deck but still want the shade, this is a great plan. That way you can still have lightly filtered sunlight with the enjoyment of an uncovered deck.

Build This Pergola ›

8. The Giant Pergola

This pergola is large and gorgeous. If you have an uncovered back patio but the sun is right on it, this pergola would do the trick.

It stands on large legs that hold it in place. You then build the actual pergola design over your patio area. This would be a great way to have a nice outdoor eating area protected from extreme sunlight.

Build This Pergola ›

9. The Boring To Brilliant Pergola

I love how this pergola absolutely transformed their sitting area from a boring little backyard area to an amazing, party-worthy area.

If you have a backyard spot quite like this, how could you not invite people over to enjoy it? They were able to extend their sitting area and throw a pergola over half of it. It is a great divider and adds a lot of charm.

Build This Pergola ›

10. The Patio Pergola

These plans are meant to show you how to build a pergola over a patio. If you are fortunate enough to have such a great little sitting area, a pergola will make it to where it is that much more enjoyable.

A pergola can add a lot of charm but also helps to make it cooler. It is hard to enjoy a patio when it is too hot.

Build This Pergola ›

11. The 15-Minute Pergola

Okay, maybe you can’t build this beautiful pergola in just 15 minutes. However, the video will show you how to build it in that amount of time.

Another upside is that this pergola was originally quoted at $17,000. He shows you how to save $14,000 by doing it yourself. Did I mention it is gorgeous? If you aren’t sold on it, you should be.

Build This Pergola ›

12. The Backyard Pergola

This is a stand-alone pergola. If you would like to create an intimate sitting area in the middle of your backyard, a pergola is a great way to accomplish the look.

The author of this post actually offered a great idea. You could plant grape vines near the pergola and eventually, it will completely cover it. That will offer an added touch of character and extra shade too.

Build This Pergola ›

13. The Pergola + Sitting Area

This pergola offers a gorgeous setting. It is actually added over a rounded sitting area on a deck. It is so gorgeous because it has built in benches that create a cozy seating area.

The pergola then goes over the already gorgeous sitting space. Not only is the space inviting but it should also be very comfortable thanks to the shade the pergola can offer.

Build This Pergola ›

14. The Patio Pergola #2

These plans are meant for someone that is familiar with construction. If you are a visual person (like myself) this might make your build a little more difficult.

However, if that challenge isn’t an issue for you then build away, and you’ll have a beautiful pergola that can be added in the middle of the backyard or over an already existing seating area.

Build This Pergola ›

15. The Fancy Seated Pergola

This pergola is extra special. It has quite a few fancy touches. However, if you are looking for something a little different then this could very well be what you need.

It is not just a pergola. It has a seating area beneath it for you to enjoy that is actually attached to the pergola itself.

Build This Pergola ›

16. The Patio Pergola #3

Although the details are very thorough and many pointers are given, once again, these are strict plans. There are no actual pictures of the actual completed job. But if you are good at reading plans and following detailed pictures then this should be no problem for you.

Build This Pergola ›

17. The Ultimate Pergola

This pergola has everything you could ever want. It is a rounded shape where swings can actually hang from the structure.

Then there are chairs and a fire pit in the center. So whether you want a place to swing, sit, or just hang out in this pergola will offer whatever is you are in search of for a relaxing spot.

Build This Pergola ›

18. The Freestanding Pergola

This is a traditional pergola. It is meant to be built over a deck. The purpose of this shelter is to provide protection from extreme sunlight and to offer a more enjoyable space.

The plans to build this creation are very detailed and should be easy enough to understand for those that are familiar with carpentry skills.

Build This Pergola ›

19. The Backyard Pergola

However, after working all day long to raise your food, you need a beautiful and relaxing space to unwind. This pergola might be able to help you have a nice space that makes resting and enjoying your land a little easier at the end of a long day.

Build This Pergola ›

20. The Large Pergola Plans

These plans are meant for building a large pergola. This is going to cover more than your average size deck.

If you have a place for a large picnic area or even a really large sitting area then this might be the size pergola you’ve been looking for. The plans are detailed so that should help make this project a little easier.

Build This Pergola ›

21. The Vine Covered Pergola

This pergola is what I really think of when I think of the word pergola. It is big, beautiful and shown in white.

However, this is built as an attachment to a house covering a patio area. It is said that it was intended for vines to grow all over it. This will offer the maximum amount of shade and is very traditional for a pergola.

Build This Pergola ›


The 4-Step Pergola

I love these pergola plans. The first is because it is gorgeous, which most pergolas are.

However, what I love so much about these plans is that they are simple. They break it down into bite-size pieces so that even the greenest carpenter can understand and have a successful build.

Build This Pergola ›

23. The ‘Awesome From The Ground Up’ Pergola

This pergola is awesome. I’ll give it that. They actually built this one in the middle of the yard.

However, beyond just making it a pergola with a cute little table set in the middle of it, they added built-in benches. This is extremely welcoming and a great idea for those that are looking for a place to entertain.

Build This Pergola ›

24. Pergola Attached To A House Plans

These are plans for a pergola that will actually be attached to the backside of your house. It is meant to cover a patio space so it can be better enjoyed.

I love these pergolas because they are a classic touch to any home and add a lot of style. Not to mention, pergolas make a space that is often too hot to enjoy a most enjoyable space.

Build This Pergola ›

25. The A-Frame Pergola

I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen a pergola quite like this one. It has the traditional style with a touch of A-frame added to the top of it.

It is a beautiful addition to any backyard oasis. If you don’t have a backyard oasis, you will after you build this masterpiece.

Build This Pergola ›

Do-it-yourself pergola, step-by-step instructions with photo

Pergola is a set of sections that are interconnected by means of transverse bars. Plants wrap around it, it can be grapes, roses or other climbers. Such a country house looks very beautiful in the landscape, it is very cozy and good to relax on warm summer evenings.

Independent construction of a pergola is carried out in practice in two stages:

  • Construction of the pergola itself.
  • Decorating the pergola with green spaces.

These sequences need more attention because they depend on each other: if there are flaws in the constructed structure, it will be difficult to plant plants. And if there are problems with landscaping, then a strange structure will remain in the garden that interferes with the overall country design.

You can choose the material for the pergola according to your desires, as well as the general style of the entire area. However, let’s focus on standard materials, which include metal and wood. Wooden pergola is one of the most popular options. We bring to your attention a design of 4 supports. To build it, you need to take:

  • 4 pieces of wood to support the structure;
  • thin bars 4 pieces to create a transverse support;
  • bars for crossbars in the amount of 2 pieces;
  • trellis panels.

Let’s start building:

1. First you need to draw a plan for the structure, considering that it should not be more than 2. 5 meters in height, otherwise the pergola will not be able to withstand strong winds.

2. Mark the area where we will place the pergola. In the place where the support beams will stand, it is necessary to dig holes, the size of which is 40×40 cm to a depth of about 60-65 cm. Then the bars must be installed and fixed. You can use concrete for this.

3. After installing the supports, fix the horizontal beams.
4. Then you need to lay and attach the cross bars in the form of a sieve.

5. Next, you should proceed from what functions the pergola will perform. If it is a pavilion, then it is required to strengthen the trellis panel on the side walls so that there is a place where climbing plants can lean. Please note that the trellises are fixed at a distance from the ground surface so that rotting does not occur.

As for the metal pergola, as an affordable option, you can use metal arches, which are built with iron rods fastened together.

The arches only need to be installed into the ground, the construction of the foundation is not required in this case.
You can also build a pergola from profiled pipes, but it will still be much more difficult to do.

Nowadays, in specialized outlets, you can find a huge selection of sectional pergolas, so if self-building is too difficult, then you can use ready-made structures.

After the structure is installed, you need to think about how to make the floor if the structure is intended for recreation. Sandstone is perfect for this, but you can also use paving slabs.

Decorating the pergola with green spaces

If the pergola has side bars, it will eventually become a green tent full of flowers when you plant climbing roses or clematis. Baskets with flowers suspended from the gazebo will also look luxurious.

Near the support beams, you can plant creepers that tolerate winter well, such as yellowleaf hops or parthenocissus. These plants will climb up the supports and eventually reach the roof. Over time, they will grow, become heavy, so do not plant too many of them, otherwise the structure will deform.

Not only the pergola is to be planted, but also the surrounding area, so that the view from it is beautiful. Shrubs that can be planted around a pergola are perfect.

Watch the video: Construction of a wooden pergola

Photo selection: DIY pergolas in landscape design

9000 3

keep in mind that the greenery should not completely cover the entire structure so that its outlines are preserved and it does not turn into a green cave. So, a self-built pergola is not at all difficult if you take this event too responsibly so that the constructed structure is reliable and you can relax in its shade with the whole family.

Free Pergola Design Plans – IKnow

Pergolas are shady garden structures that create a unique architectural feature in the landscape. Typically made of wood, they are a feasible weekend project for determined craftsmen. There are many approaches to pergola design, but there are two main types: pergolas, which are a destination in a landscape, and pergolas, which block paths from one point in the landscape to another. Both are often used as support structures for vines.

#1 Bench Destination Pergola Floor Plan

This basic pergola design can easily be scaled up to a larger version large enough to host a picnic or backyard party. This pergola can support light vines such as jasmine or honeysuckle.

  • Sustainable green patio gardens
  • How to build a grape arbor
  • Free Deck Design Software

Bench Assignment Plan


In addition to the materials listed, you can print the attached plans for reference. Use the Adobe Printables Guide for this.

  • Tape measure
  • Marker flags
  • Post hole diggers
  • 4 60lb bags of concrete
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • 9000 9 4′ level

  • 4 8′ 4 x 4 pressured posts
  • 3 8 ft pressured 2 x 4 s
  • 2 10 ft pressure treated 2 x 4 with
  • 5 9 ft pressure treated 2 x 2 with
  • 3 8 ft 1 x 2 with
  • 1 lb 3 inch external wood screws
  • 900 09 12 1- 3/4″ external wood screws

  • Circular saw
  • Ladder
  • 1 bench

Step by Step Instructions

Locate a pergola in a flat, quiet corner of the yard where you would like a shady bench.

Step One – Install Poles

  1. Mark the four corners of the 4 x 8 foot rectangle on the ground with markers.
  2. Dig a hole eight inches wide and 16 inches deep at each of the four points using a hole digger.
  3. Mix two 60 lb bags of concrete in a wheelbarrow; set the post in one of the holes and have an assistant hold it plumb (using a level) in both directions while you pound the concrete into the hole around the post with a shovel.
  4. Install the second post in the concrete in the same way in the adjacent hole.
  5. Mix two more bags of concrete and repeat the process with another pair of posts.

Step Two – Install the Beams and Crossbars

  1. Cut two 8-foot 2 x 4 sections in half and screw a pair of 4-foot sections horizontally between the top of each pair of adjacent posts using 3-inch outside wood screws. The tops of the uprights will be clamped between 2 x 4.
  2. Screw 10′ 2 x 4 between the tops of the posts on the front and back sides to form horizontal beams across the wide side of the pergola. The ends of each 2 x 4 will extend 12 inches beyond the uprights on either side.
  3. Cut the remaining 8′ 2 x 4 into four 2′ sections, then cut each end at a 45 degree angle. Screw them in as corner brackets between each upright and the 10-foot beams using 3-inch screws.
  4. Cut five 9-ft 2 x 2 in half and screw them to the top of the 10ft beams every 12″ using 3″ screws. The ends of each 2 x 2 will extend six inches beyond the beams on either side.
  5. Cut three 8-foot 1 x 2s in half and screw them to the posts on the short side of the pergola every 24 inches, measured from top to bottom, using 1-3/4-inch screws; they can be used as lattice support if you want to add one.
  6. Place a bench under the pergola.

#2 Path Pergola Plan

This style of pergola is designed to create a shady garden path and can support large woody vines such as vines or wisteria. The structure can be scaled to any desired length, although the instructions below are for a 24ft pergola.


Walkway Pergola Plan

Along with the materials listed, print plans to help you complete your project.

  • Tape measure
  • Marker flags
  • Shovel
  • 30 60lb bags of concrete
  • Wheelbarrow
  • 4ft level
  • 9000 9 10 12 ft 6 x 6 studs, pressure treated

  • 4 14 ft beams 6 x 8, pressure treated
  • 13 10′ boards 2 x 6, pressure treated
  • 20 12″ x 12″ galvanized T-plates
  • 140 1/2″ x 3″ galvanized screws
  • 3/8″ drill bit
  • 5/8″ socket
  • 1 lb. 3″ external screws
  • Ladder

Step-by-step instructions

Locate this pergola over a straight, level path through the garden.

Step One – Install the Posts

  1. Using markers, mark the four corners of an 8-by-24-foot rectangle; mark the midpoint between the 24-foot sides, and then mark the midpoint between each of those points.
  2. Dig a hole 16 inches wide and three feet deep for posts at each flag location.
  3. Mix three 60 lb bags of concrete in a wheelbarrow; set the post in one of the holes and have an assistant hold it plumb (using a level) in both directions while you pound the concrete into the hole around the post with a shovel.
  4. Mix three more bags of concrete and repeat the process with the remaining posts.

Step Two – Install Beams and Crossbars

  1. Lay the 14-foot beams on top of the uprights along the long sides so that they meet at the top of the middle upright. The beams will extend two feet beyond each of the end posts.
  2. Install a T-plate inside and outside of each stud joint using 1/2-inch wood screws. However, first drill a 3/8″ pilot hole for each of them.
  3. Screw 10′ 2 x 6 boards as cross members every 24″ over the joists using 3″ outside screws.

Tips & Options

These two common pergola designs can be customized in different ways.

Pitched Roof Detail and Tapered Ends of Rafters

  • Instead of having the ends of the beams and crossbeams perfectly square, cut them into a more interesting conical shape.
  • For more sun protection, add a layer of trellis to the top of the pergola; grille can also be added to the side walls for a three-sided partially enclosed design.
  • Consider a pitched “roof” for a pergola rather than a flat plane – it can be sloped in the style of a simple shed roof or it can meet in the middle like a gable roof of a house.
  • Don’t forget that you can also paint the pergola to match other elements of your landscape.